Book-Lover.com

The Website for Book Lovers



Legands of the Jews > Volume 1 >

Prev | Next | Contents


THE BIRTH OF ISAAC

When the prayer of Abraham for Abimelech was heard, and the king of the Philistines recovered, the angels raised a loud cry, and spoke to God thus: "O Lord of the world! All these years hath Sarah been barren, as the wife of Abimelech was. Now Abraham prayed to Thee, and the wife of Abimelech hath been granted a child. It is just and fair that Sarah should be remembered and granted a child." These words of the angels, spoken on the New Year's Day, when the fortunes of men are determined in heaven for the whole year, bore a result. Barely seven months later, on the first day of the Passover, Isaac was born.

The birth of Isaac was a happy event, and not in the house of Abraham alone. The whole world rejoiced, for God remembered all barren women at the same time with Sarah. They all bore children. And all the blind were made to see, all the lame were made whole, the dumb were made to speak, and the mad were restored to reason. And a still greater miracle happened: on the day of Isaac's birth the sun shone with such splendor as had not been seen since the fall of man, and as he will shine again only in the future world.[203]

To silence those who asked significantly, "Can one a hundred years old beget a son?" God commanded the angel who has charge over the embryos, to give them form and shape, that he fashion Isaac precisely according to the model of Abraham, so that all seeing Isaac might exclaim, "Abraham begot Isaac."[204]

That Abraham and Sarah were blessed with offspring only after they had attained so great an age, had an important reason. It was necessary that Abraham should bear the sign of the covenant upon his body before he begot the son who was appointed to be the father of Israel.[205] And as Isaac was the first child born to Abraham after he was marked with the sign, he did not fail to celebrate his circumcision with much pomp and ceremony on the eighth day.[206] Shem, Eber, Abimelech king of the Philistines, and his whole retinue, Phicol the captain of his host in it--they all were present, and also Terah and his son Nahor, in a word, all the great ones round about.[207] On this occasion Abraham could at last put a stop to the talk of the people, who said, "Look at this old couple! They picked up a foundling on the highway, and they pretend he is their own son, and to make their statement seem credible, they arrange a feast in his honor." Abraham had invited not only men to the celebration, but also the wives of the magnates with their infants, and God permitted a miracle to be done. Sarah had enough milk in her breasts to suckle all the babes there,[208] and they who drew from her breasts had much to thank her for. Those whose mothers had harbored only pious thoughts in their minds when they let them drink the milk that flowed from the breasts of the pious Sarah, they became proselytes when they grew up; and those whose mothers let Sarah nurse them only in order to test her, they grew up to be powerful rulers, losing their dominion only at the revelation on Mount Sinai, because they would not accept the Torah. All proselytes and pious heathen are the descendants of these infants.[209]

Among the guests of Abraham were the thirty-one kings and thirty-one viceroys of Palestine who were vanquished by Joshua at the conquest of the Holy Land. Even Og king of Bashan was present, and he had to suffer the teasing of the other guests, who rallied him upon having called Abraham a sterile mule, who would never have offspring. Og, on his part, pointed at the little boy with contempt, and said, "Were I to lay my finger upon him, he would be crushed." Whereupon God said to him: "Thou makest mock of the gift given to Abraham! As thou livest, thou shalt look upon millions and myriads of his descendants, and in the end thou shalt fall into their hands."[210]



Prev | Next | Contents





Heptameron
The Heptameron: The Very Naughty Book By Margueritte de Navarre

Princess Belle Etoile
The Beautiful Illustrations of a Dark Fairy Tale

WW1 Poster
World War One Propaganda Posters



Charles Dickens Mistress
A Victorian Scandal: Charles Dickens and The Actress

Art of Albrecht Durer
The Art of Albrecht Durer